Module descriptions for Japanese Studies

  • As courses are reviewed regularly the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.

  • Japanese 1A
    (Compulsory for beginner level)
    A course in practical Japanese language skills for beginners and near-beginners.

    Japanese 1B
    (Compulsory for beginner level)
    A course in practical Japanese language skills for near-beginners.

    Introduction to Japanese Society and Culture
    An introduction to the study of modern Japanese society and culture, primarily from an anthropological perspective, but also incorporating overviews of Japan's geography, religion, economy and modern history. Topics covered include the cultural basis of Japanese patterns of behaviour; marriage, family and kinship; social organisation and relations in urban and rural communities; education; work and employment; religion and ritual; popular culture; minorities; and the globalization of Japanese culture.

    Japanese Reading and Writing I
    A course for reading and writing language skills in Japanese at beginners' level with the development of Kanji learning.

    Japanese 2 A
    A course in practical Japanese language skills for lower Level 2 students.

    Japanese 2 B
    A course in practical Japanese language skills for higher Level 2 students.

    Introduction to Social Anthropology
    An introduction to the history and practice of the subject of social anthropology as a basis for more advanced study in the field.

    Foundations of Business
    Introduces students to the nature, form and function of business organisations. Examples from current business practice will be used to illustrate business concepts and theory.

    Introduction to Chinese Culture and Society
    A study of many aspects of Chinese culture and Chinese society. Topics covered will include different aspects of traditional Chinese culture with a view to understanding contemporary Chinese society.

    The Film Industry
    Introduces students to the structural framework of the film industry, exploring how different systems of film funding, production, and distribution have evolved over time. The module also traces the development of a film through all its various stages from pre-production, production, post-production to distribution and explains who is in charge of what in this complex and costly process. It is envisaged that professionals from the film industry will contribute to the course.


    Some of these modules can also be taken in Year 4

    Japan at Play
    A study of Japan made by examining forms of play in that society from an anthropological perspective.

    Japanese Reading and Writing II 
    A course for reading and writing language skills in Japanese with intensive development of Kanji learning.

    Japanese 3 A 
    This module is designed to enable students to improve their Japanese to higher level through the study and practice of the structures and function of the language.

    Japanese 3 B 
    This module is designed to enable students to improve their Japanese language skills through the study and practice of the structures and function of the language.


    Japanese Oral Skills
    This module helps students develop oral and aural skills and knowledge necessary for effective communication at upper beginner's level. It allows students to be creative while learning essential conversation strategies and skills.

    Personhood, Gender and the Body in Contemporary Japan
    This module will introduce anthropological perspectives on personhood, gender, and the body, and will examine these with reference to ethnographic material from Japan. This will also include a discussion of some issues relating to medical anthropology, including medical systems in Japan, and beliefs and practices surrounding reproductive technologies, the end of life, and organ donation.

    Work and the Japanese
    Anthropological perspectives on work, employment and company organisation in contemporary Japan. Looks at the significance of work and the company in the lives of people working in Japan or in Japanese companies located elsewhere. Students will learn about company organisation, industrial relations and the nature of employment in both large and medium to small sized enterprises.

    Understanding Manga
    This is a study of Japanese popular culture through visual media called manga (Japanese comics). This module provides an understanding of how certain visual media have developed in Japan and how they are presented and received in the Japanese context, and how they reflect social and cultural issues through analysing these works.

    Contemporary Japanese Cinema
    This module explores the situation of contemporary Japanese cinema. The students will first be given an overview of Japanese film history in order to gain some insight into the contemporary film industry. They will then focus on selected contemporary directors, such as Shinya Tsukamoto, Mamoru Oshii and Takeshi Kitano, to investigate the directions Japanese filmmakers are taking and how their films reflect social and cultural issues.

    Tandem Language Learning
    This is an independent study module whereby people with different native languages (English and Japanese) work together in pairs and groups in order to improve their language skills and learn their cultures by supporting each other. The emphasis of this module is on oral communication.

    Japanese Religions
    This module provides an overview of the religious traditions of Japan from pre-history through to the present. The approach will be historical and thematic, and will situate religious phenomena in their historical and cultural contexts. This module will alert students to various problems of interpretation concerning religion in Japanese history, and will empower them to think critically about these. This will entail relating issues involved in the interpretation of Japanese religions to problems in the study of religions in general. We will examine primary source material, secondary scholarship by both Western and Japanese scholars (in translation), and films. Students will acquire a firm grasp of the research tools and methods needed to pursue further interest in the study of Japanese religions.

    The Making of Modern Japan
    This module studies the trajectory of Japan's extraordinary rise from a feudal, resource-poor nation in the 1850s to the world's second-largest economy in the early twenty-first century. We will examine the social, economic and political changes of this period through primary source materials, secondary scholarship by both Western and Japanese scholars (in translation), literature and films. In so doing, students will acquire a firm grasp of the research tools and methods needed to pursue further interest in the study of Japanese history.

    Methodology of Foreign Language Teaching
    An introduction to the theory and practical application of the principles of second or foreign language teaching at secondary or adult levels. The course leads to familiarity with aspects of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and classroom management which are all part of the language teacher's repertoire. It also raises students' awareness of issues in reading, writing and speaking when teaching these skills in the classroom. The module includes an important element of microteaching in small groups.

    Independent Study in Japanese
    A module offering Japanese single honours students the opportunity to pursue a defined academic project in either greater depth or greater breadth.


    The following are all compulsory for sandwich-mode students:

    • Language Studies in Japan
    • Academic Studies in Japan
    • Autonomous Learning in Japan

    Students of Japanese language and contemporary society spend an entire academic year in Japan. They will attend one of our partner universities with whom we have established links.


    Japanese Cinema and Contemporary History
    Develops students' understanding and awareness of Japanese cinema in its historical context. It will enable students to relate the style and content of films to social and political developments in Japan during the twentieth century, and to situate films in the context of scholarly debates about the classical Japanese Cinema. The focus on the cinema of the six decades up to 1989 will complement the focus on contemporary Japanese film.

    Advanced Japanese Reading and Translation 
    The module develops students' ability to read Japanese texts at an advanced level.

    Advanced Japanese Communication
    This module aims to improve students' skills in speaking Japanese. Through the study of accent types and intonation patterns, you will learn how to pronounce accurately words and phrases we encounter for the first time, and practice speaking Japanese in a more appealing way.

    Japanese 3C
    This module is designed to enable students to improve their Japanese to a higher level through the study and practice of the structures and function of the language, and to express themselves more freely both verbally and in writing.

    Japanese 4
    This module provides further knowledge and skills in Japanese focusing on reading and writing. Students will experience reading in a variety of texts in such genres as description, review and reports, using authentic materials. They learn kanji from the texts they read. Also, students practise writing in the genres introduced in the texts.

    Minorities and Marginality, Class and Conflict in Japan
    This module closely examines the historical and contemporary experiences of Japan's ethnic minorities and marginalized groups, which pose important problems for (our understanding of) a Japanese society that is commonly conceived as ethnically and culturally homogeneous. Detailed discussion of minorities and marginality in Japan will be related to broader concerns with ethnic and cultural identity and conflict, class structure, (trans)nationality, hybridity and diaspora as these are now discussed in anthropology.

    Japan: Myth and Reality
    This module provides a historical overview and critical analyses of 'Western' discourses concerning the exceptional status of 'Japan' and 'the Japanese'. As an instructive counterpoint, it will also look briefly at Japanese self-images.

    Japan through Contemporary Texts
    An advanced language study in which students will gain insights into current affairs and current events in Japan through a wide range of contemporary literary texts. Students will be introduced to contemporary Japanese writing via a novel, scholarly books, journals, newspapers, magazines and so on. Students will also explore the internet to seek additional sources to supplement/complement discussion points.

    Japanese Translation: Theory and practice
    This module covers some of the fundamental concepts in translation, such as translation briefs, textual functions, cohesion and coherence, and information structure. These are introduced with examples (not limited to Japanese) and subsequently applied in translation from Japanese to English or English to Japanese. This module also focuses on the linguistic differences between Japanese and English, and the difficulties that they pose for translation.